Yorkshire dialect: Miss Dibnah explains the different methods for baking white bread, brown bread and spice bread
This recording is an example of a Yorkshire dialect.
Miss Dibnah is clearly a speaker of traditional dialect. Some of her vocabulary, such as clout, yewn, siche and body, meaning ‘cloth,’ ‘oven’, ‘such’ and ‘person’ respectively, might sound unusual to contemporary listeners and we are unlikely nowadays to hear gan for ‘go’ this far south of Tyneside. Her use of older past participle forms, such as when it had gotten risen, we’d gotten egg in hadn’t we and when you get that baken seem to hark back to English of an earlier period, as do her archaic dialect pronunciations of words such as bowl, yeast, well, look, cold and half.
Nonetheless, much of her speech remains part of the local dialect to this day. Listen, for instance, to the way she substitutes a <r> sound for the <t> in the phrases well first I got a clean bowl and then I put it in front of fire to warm with a clout over it. This type of pronunciation is only possible when a small set of common verbs (e.g. get, got, let, put, shut) or non-lexical words (e.g. but, lot, not, that, what) precedes a word with an initial vowel – combinations such as what if, get off, lot of and shut up, for instance – but it is still extremely common in northern England.
Use of the historic present tense
Miss Dibnah uses another interesting non-standard grammatical feature that is still relatively common in the north, particularly among older speakers: the so-called historic present. This is a verbal construction used as an alternative to the past tense when telling a story or relating a series of connected events in the past. You can hear this construction here on several occasions, including the statements: then I takes it and I kneads it real well up again and I puts it into tins and then I takes it up out and stands it up to get cold. The additional <s> on the verbs indicate quite clearly that this is not a ‘normal’ present tense.
About the speaker
Miss Dibnah (b.1890; female, housekeeper)
Miss Dibnah: Well, first I got a clean bowl. Then I put my flour in and I put my, uh, yeast to rise in some warm water. Wiv a bit of sugar to make it rise better. And I rub some flour, uh, uh, rub some lard into my flour, bit of salt. And then I mix it all up with some warm water. And I kneaded it real well. Because if you don’t knead it real well, well, you don’t get good bread. Well, then I put it in front of fire to warm with a clout over it – a clean clout – and when it had gotten risen in about two hours, then I takes it and I kneads it real well up again and I puts it into tins to, and then I puts it in front of fire again to rise up a bit. And it rises for quarter of an hour and then I puts it intiv a nice warm oven. But if you want it, I could say 'yewn' [laughs].
Stanley: Ah! Good.
Miss Dibnah: If you went back to the old, uh, real old, I puts it into 'yewn'. Well, I leaves it in 'yewn' for about twenty minutes and then I has a look at it to see how it’s ganning on. And if it, oven isn’t hot enough, I pokes fire up. And if it is over hot, I shoves damper in. Then I, when it’s had another twenty minutes, I has another look at it and see how it’s ganning on. And then I leaves it another twenty minutes, then it should be ready. But if they’re big loaves, why, then they’re to have another few minutes. And today they were big loaves, so they had to be done an hour and twenty minutes. And then I takes it up, out, and stands it up to get cold … sometimes I makes brown.
Stanley: And how do you, what’s the difference between white and brown?
Miss Dibnah: Nobbut putting brown flour in with your, why, wholemeal flour as they call it now, in among your white flour. We put half and half, but some folks puts, whole brown flour and then it’s real brown.
Stanley: I see. Uh, but do you put, uhm, currants and things like that in?
Miss Dibnah: Oh, thou means spice bread.
Stanley: Ah! And how do you make that?
Miss Dibnah: Well, if you’re an old-fashioned body, you can guess it, but if you aren’t, you have it to weigh.
Stanley: Ah! [laughs]
Miss Dibnah: And then you want a pound of flour and a, a, a quarter of butter if you hae siche a thing. And if you ain’t, why, you hae to put this here new-fangled stuff, you know, margarine. Well then, you want, you rub that into your flour and don’t forget to put a bit of salt in, cause you always want to put a bit of salt in. And then you want a quarter a pound of currants and a quarter a pound of raisins and a bit of candied peel and a half a pound of sugar. And mix all that up together and then you beat up a couple of eggs and you put that in. And then if it isn’t soft enough, why, then you hae to put, mix it soft enough with egg …
Unidentified third party: Milk
Miss Dibnah: Aye with milk, not egg, aye, we’d gotten egg in, hadn’t we?
Miss Dibnah: And then you put it intiv a tin and put it into oven and it has to bake two hours. Because it’s a big bread, uh, loaf when you get that baken. That’s spice bread. Or a currant loaf as the old-fashioned folks called it.
Miss Dibnah: well first i got a clean bowl (0.5) then i put my flour in (0.5) and i put my uh yeast to (0.5) rise in some warm water (2.0) wiv a bit of sugar (0.5) to make it rise better (0.5) and i rub some flour uh uh rub some lard into my flour (0.5) bit of salt (0.5) and then i mix it all up with some warm water (0.5) and i kneaded it real well (0.5) because (0.5) if you dont knead it real well (0.5) well you dont get good bread (1.5) well then i put it in front of fire to warm with a clout over it (0.5) a clean clout (0.5) and when it had gotten risen in about two hours then i takes it and i kneads it real well up again and i puts it into tins to (0.5) and then i puts it in front of fire again to rise up a bit (0.5) and it rises for quarter of an hour and then i puts it intiv a nice warm oven (1.0) but if you want it i could say yewn1 [laughs]
Stanley: ah good
Miss Dibnah: if you went back to the old (0.5) uh (0.5) real old i puts it into yewn (1.0) well i leaves it in yewn for about twenty minutes (0.5) and then i has a look at it to see how its ganning on (1.0) and if it oven isnt hot enough i pokes fire up (0.5) and if it is over hot i shoves damper in (0.5) then i (0.5) when its had another twenty minutes i has another look at it (0.5) and see how its ganning on and then i leaves it another twenty minutes (0.5) then it should be ready but if theyre big loaves why then theyre to have another few minutes (0.5) and today they were big loaves so they had (0.5) to be done an hour and twenty minutes and then i takes it up out and stands it up to get cold [recording interrupted] sometimes i makes brown
Stanley: and how do you whats the difference between white and brown
Miss Dibnah: nobbut putting brown flour in with your (0.5) why wholemeal flour as they call it now (0.5) in among your (0.5) white flour (0.5) we put half and half but some folks puts (0.5) whole brown flour and then it’s real brown
Stanley: i see (1.0) uh but do you put uhm (0.5) currants and things like that in
Miss Dibnah: oh thou means spice bread
Stanley: ah (1.0) and how do you make that
Miss Dibnah: well (2.0) if youre an old-fashioned body (0.5) you can guess it but if you arent you have it to weigh
Stanley: ah [laughs]
Miss Dibnah: and then you want a pound of flour (2.0) and a a a quarter of butter (0.5) if you hae siche a thing (1.0) and if you aint why you hae to put this here (0.5) new fangled stuff you know margarine (1.0) well then you want you rub that into your flour (1.0) and don’t forget to put a bit of salt in cause you always want to put a bit of salt in (0.5) and then you want a quarter a pound of currants (0.5) and a quarter a pound of raisins (0.5) and a bit of candied peel (0.5) and a half a pound of sugar (0.5) and mix all that up together (0.5) and then you beat up a couple of eggs and you put that in (0.5) and then if it isnt soft enough why then you hae to put (0.5) mix it soft enough with (0.5) egg
unidentified third party: milk
Miss Dibnah: aye with milk (1.0) not egg aye wed gotten egg in hadnt we
Miss Dibnah: and then you put it intiv a tin (0.5) and put it into oven (0.5) and it has to bake two hours (1.0) because its a big bread uh loaf when you get that baken thats spice bread (1.0) or a currant loaf as the old fashioned folks called it
 This could alternatively be treated as a matter of dialectal pronunciation of the word 'oven' but the spelling <yewn> reflects an entry of the same in The English Dialect Dictionary Vols 1–6 edited by J Wright (Oxford: Clarendon Press and OUP reprints 1898–1905).
- Yorkshire dialect: Miss Dibnah explains the different methods for baking white bread, brown bread and spice bread
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